Social worker vies against incumbent in Deer Park ISD trustee race
A social worker is vying against an incumbent for a Deer Park ISD trustee seat in the May 5 election and two other incumbents are running unopposed.
Monique Rodriguez is challenging incumbent Jason Cable for Position 3.
Rhonda Leigh Lowe, who holds Position 1 and serves as secretary for the board, is running unopposed, as is Position 2 trustee Albert Lee Giddens.
If elected, Rodriguez, who is a licensed master social worker who serves at a veteran transition center in Houston, said she would advocate for school finance reform, increase mental health support and challenge the misuse and overemphasis of standardized testing.
She sees school finance as a major issue.
“I plan to meet and discuss with legislatures and policy advocates as well as testify for or against bills in Austin in order to push for school finance reform to support increases in the state’s fair share of the cost of education to keep up with inflation, the changing needs of students and the population growth,” said Rodriguez, an Army veteran and mother of boys ages 6 and 8.
Even with last fall’s voter approval of a landmark $156 million bond for campus and infrastructure needs - which Rodriguez supported and said was beneficial to the district - she believes that “funding is not keeping up with the demands requirements and growth of the student population.
“For Deer Park ISD, of the $11,761 in revenues per student, 82 percent is coming from the local level, 13 percent from the state of Texas and 4 percent from the federal level,” she said. “The local area is paying such a huge share.”
Rodriguez said she is motivated to bring about changes she thinks need to occur in the district. She has lived in Deer Park for five years with her husband, who also is an Army veteran.
“I am running for Deer Park ISD school board trustee, Position 3, because I want to diversify and bring a fresh perspective to our current school board. I feel that there are voices and perspectives not heard or understood. I want a school board that is reflective of the community and the school district which it serves,” she said.
“I work with veterans daily to help them to gain access to existing quality resources in the community,” Rodriguez said.
“Previously, I have served trauma patients at UT Health’s STARS Clinic, and women veterans at Grace After Fire. I have also spent nine years working in various schools in the area.”
She said she worked five years with Houston ISD managing school finances and budgeting at a middle school and served one year as a site coordinator managing after-school programming through grant funding.
“Finally, I served three years with Big Brothers Big Sisters Lone Star managing school-based mentoring programs with various schools in Houston, Galena Park and Goose Creek school districts,” she said.
“I am very familiar with the challenges schools face serving in multiple positions, in different schools and districts across the area.”
Cable, who is vice president of sales for enterprise application software company SAP and has lived in Deer Park for 30 years, wants to ensure that resources and plans are in place for student achievement.
“While there are state standards in place, the reality is each local district has its own influencing circumstances,” he said.
“In one hand, we want to adhere to legislative policies and in the other we want the flexibility to meet each student’s unique needs. This isn’t an easy task in a district the size of Deer Park. By teaming effectively with our district’s administration, I as a trustee have the opportunity and responsibility to counsel and coach on local policy concepts that help the district balance these priorities.”
He graduated from Deer Park High School in 1991. He and his wife Rena have five daughters.
“Growing up in Deer Park I benefited from the quality of education I received here, and to a large extent I believe it is important to give back to those who I have gained so much from,” Cable said.
“I have the benefit of traveling all over our country and could live almost anywhere I wanted, but I choose to live here because of the quality of education my children receive, the genuine care they receive from their respective teachers and administrators and because of the sense of community in Deer Park.
“My interest is in protecting this for my family, our district families, and for future Deer Park families.”
Cable seeks to sponsor and push for student course options and build on partnerships between local community organizations, the city of Deer Park and the district to encourage educational innovation through responsible use of technology.
“Having been in the information technology industry for the past 20 years, I can see how quickly technology changes impact our society,” he said.
“We should be pushing the envelope in our schools so our students leave our district equipped and prepared for the future workforce.”
Cable said that as far as school funding goes, Deer Park is doing well as a result of good management decisions, but strategic planning is necessary to ensure continued success.
“For the most part,” he said, “Deer Park ISD is fiscally sound due to the wise spending policies of our former and current administrators. We enjoy a relatively healthy tax base due to local industry, but this base isn’t always guaranteed, and with aging buildings coupled with a growing percentage of economically disadvantages families attending Deer Park Schools, we must remain vigilant.
“It will be important to work through a long-term strategic plan for maintaining our campuses and adjusting our instructional needs while remaining conservative in our spending plans.”
Lowe is completing her 19th year as a Deer Park ISD trustee.
She retired from her family’s small business of 20 years.
“My husband Scot is a land surveyor and up until 2013, we had our own business here in Deer Park,” she said.
Lowe has two children, Cameron and Benjamin, who graduated from Deer Park High School in 2009.
“My one and only platform has been providing the students of our community with an exceptional education,” she said.
“I feel like we do that very well, and I am proud to be a small part of that. We have an exceptional group serving on our board, and it has been a pleasure to work with a group of people who are focused on students.
“I love Deer Park and have enjoyed serving as a trustee,” Lowe said. “I consider it an honor to be a small part of Team Deer Park.”
Giddens has been on the Deer Park board of trustees for more than 20 years. He is a trial attorney and has lived in Deer Park for more than 30 years.
“My wife, Kathy and I have seven children, and we put five of them through the Deer park school system,” he said.
He is a 15-year veteran of the Texas Army National Guard and has a bachelor’s degree and a juris doctorate degree from the University of Texas at Austin.
“I have a law firm of over 40 years. I have been president of Texas Intercity Football Inc. youth football and youth drill and cheer for more than 20 years,” he said.
Giddens said that he serves on the board to serve the “best interest of the students, which includes their safety and education.”
Positions 1, 2 and 3 are each for three year terms.
For more information on the election, go to www.dpisd.org/